Obama Refuses to Send Senate a Witness to Explain Drone War Legality

John Glaser, April 18, 2013

Obama chair

“The Obama administration does not intend to send a witness to testify at a Senate hearing next week on the legality of the U.S. targeted killing program,” McClatchy reports the White House as saying Wednesday.

The decision illustrates the limits of President Barack Obama’s pledge in his State of the Union speech on Feb. 12 to provide greater transparency into top-secret drone operations that have killed thousands of suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

…“We do not currently plan to send a witness to this hearing and have remained in close contact with the committee about how we can best provide them the information they require,” Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman, wrote in an email to McClatchy.

The spokeswoman then declined to say why the President refuses to defend the legality of his drone war in a Senate hearing.

The administration’s intransigent refusal here emphasizes yet again that not only is the drone war itself secret, but it’s legal rationale is secret too. As Judge Napolitano put it bluntly, “How could a legal argument be classified?”

There isn’t any conceivable reason to believe making the legal rationale for the drone war public would unduly “reveal sources and methods.” Publicizing it could not possibly harm “national security.” Indeed, not even the National Security Council spokeswoman would openly make this argument; she simply refused to explain why the White House won’t testify to the drone war’s legality.

As US District Judge Colleen McMahon, who upheld the Obama administration’s ability to throw out legal cases by claiming disclosures would harm national security, said in her ruling, “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

The leaked Justice Department memo that summarized the legal (if you can call it that) justification for the targeted killing program brazenly declared that even when there is no active intelligence indicating targeted individuals are carrying out a specific terrorist attack, the administration can drop a bomb on groups of often unidentified individuals.

Standard rules of international law demand that an imminent threat of an immediate attack is required in order to legally initiate the use of force in self-defense. But the Obama administration effectively rejects that stipulation, while refusing to allow any checks, balances, or transparency on the process.

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, claimed further in March that drone war in Pakistan is illegal because it violates Pakistani sovereignty.

It is the fact that the drone war rests on a questionable legal basis – to put it generously – that Obama refuses to even publicize a legal opinion on it. If he were to make it public, it might face judicial scrutiny. And facing legal and public scrutiny when you’re engaging in criminal acts is the last thing you want.




13 Responses to “Obama Refuses to Send Senate a Witness to Explain Drone War Legality”

  1. Just another example of his lying persona. He only wants transparency in items that he deem a threat to him or which go counter to his beliefs.

  2. [...] Obama Refuses Senate Witness on Drone War Legality [...]

  3. There isn’t any conceivable reason to believe making the legal rationale for the drone war public would unduly “reveal sources and methods.” Publicizing it could not possibly harm “national security.” Indeed, not even the National Security Council spokeswoman would openly make this argument; she simply refused to explain why the White House won’t testify to the drone war’s legality.

  4. We're living under tyranny & most don't seem to know or care, all under the mantra of national security.

  5. [...] The Senate Judiciary Committee was to have a hearing next week to look into the legal justifications for killing people using drones. The white house is refusing to send anyone to testify on the matter as requested. As usual the presidents promises of transparency on this issue, like his other promises of transparency on otehr issues, is just more smoke up the collective wazoo. READ MORE… [...]

  6. Obama said no war.

  7. Mark my words: The White House is a Slaughterhouse; ever since Nov. 23, 1963. Every administration since has committed crimes against humanity. Since the media is controlled by this dark abode, the real blood and gore being unleashed around the world remains unseen; unseen at least to US. Clinton, Bush, Obama, Waco, 9/11, Boston; it is all sourced from the same evil abyss. The God News is, is that Truth will prevail. Murder will out; and the war criminals will face their time in the dock. My only question is: Will hemp be legal in time to fashion the rope?

  8. [...] Obama Refuses to Send Senate a Witness to Explain Drone War Legality [...]

  9. I know, i care, I don't know what the **** to do!

  10. Barack Hussein Obama II is a treasonous turd-stain who like the rubber stamp committees once known as the US congress/supreme court needs to answer for their brazen unconstitutional lawlessness and crimes against humanity (torture, kidnapping, elective wars waged wholly upon lies, multi-trillion dollar banker/business bailouts, healthcare scheme designed to enrich insurance companies at the expense of societies most vulnerable, NDAA 2012, et al).

    These people operating under the guise of the US government are traitors and should be treated as such. Fair and open trials for the criminals with swift and Just punishment.

    What little remains of the once was republic will surely crumble if the criminals are not held to account.

    “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

    ~ Mario Savio

  11. Turn off the corporate for profit "news" media, and turn into the alternative news sources out there.

  12. I don’t want to judge you but I think that you need to do a little bit more research on the matter

  13. We send billions to the United Nations and never get a invoice or a receipt showing how it was spent. This is how retarded Americans have been for 70 years. the obsolete UN had one charter and it was "World Peace." Ain't that a hoot?